Describe your frozen shoulder pain

Posted , 10 users are following.


Recently, I got tentatively diagnosed with frozen shoulder. Still waiting for MRI, but I don't think that will happen any time soon with COVID-19 restrictions. So I wanted to hear some opinions from folks here whether I really have frozen shoulder, or is this something else.

Basically, my physio diagnosed it based on mostly one thing: that I'm unable to rotate my arm outwards, even when I relax my muscles and let someone else move my arm. I read that this is the hallmark of frozen shoulder. However, the weird thing is that my pain is located in upper arm only. My shoulder doesn't hurt (or sometimes hurts a little bit, but 90% of the pain is in the upper arm). The pain is either on the front (along the biceps) or on the back (along the triceps). Often, both at the same time. I also noticed that my muscles around shoulder (most notably pectorals and upper trapezius) are constantly very tense/contracted.

Does this really sound like frozen shoulder?

The pain is worse at night. Especially when I lie down on my back. When I lie on my good side, there is much less pain, and this is really the only position I can get some sleep in. I keep waking up every few hours, and it is very difficult to get back to sleep afterwards. During the day, it is better, especially if I avoid movements that cause pain. I try to do gentle ROM exercises. I cannot do any stretching or strengthening exercises, because they result in pain that sometimes lasts for over a day. And again, the pain is located in the front and in the back of upper arm, but not much in the shoulder. My biceps and triceps are becoming weaker and smaller, and I cannot do anything about it, which I find scary and depressing (I used to exercise 3 - 4 times a week, but I have not exercised at all since March). It even hurts me when I go for walks - I think it is the downward movement of the arm that is provoked by steps that somehow stretches my biceps tendon and causes pain, but I cannot be sure.

And a bit of history how this started for me (not sure if this is relevant):

In September 2019 I developed a sharp pain in my biceps long tendon area (the onset was from zero pain to 100% pain within a few hours - it was just getting worse throughout the day). No obvious reason for it. My doctor thinks it was either muscle tear or some impingement, although Ultrasound and X-Ray showed nothing. I was not able to lift my arm in front of me more than around 45 degrees. I avoided that move for the first month, and then once the pain lessened, I started exercising and stretching all muscles in my upper arm slowly. It was going well, the pain was pretty much gone by December 2019. I continued with exercises, and then around February/March 2020 I started feeling a bit of pain in my upper arm during stretches, and sometimes after strengthening exercises. I kept going with exercises and tried to ignore the pain, but it was progressively getting worse and worse. By the middle of April, it became unbearable. The pain was so intense I couldn't sleep for two nights. So I put a makeshift sling to immobilize my arm, and took Aleeve for 10 days. It helped with the pain, but once I took the sling off after 10 days, my shoulder wouldn't move without pain. That was end of April, and my physio diagnosed me with frozen shoulder. Since then, it has not really changed much. I do my gentle ROM exercises many times a day, but they don't seem to help.

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32 Replies

  • Edited

    Sounds like frozen shoulder to me, you have all of the classic symptoms. You have options, surgery, therapy, cortisone, rest, but nothing (even heavy duty drugs) that will relive the pain until it releases. Cortisone shots worked for short term relief for me. I have had frozen shoulder in each shoulder, still working on one. I hate to bring bad news but it will take a long time to get over it, possibly 3 years, this is a great site you can find all kind of suggestions and moral support. Hang in there it does get better.

    • Posted

      How do I know whether I'm still in the freezing stage, or in the already frozen stage? Are there any specific distinct signs? Will the pain completely go away during the frozen stage? Or does it hurt all the time?

    • Posted

      They have told me as long as I am in pain it is in the freezing stage. Mine did start to loosen up but with the covid thing I couldn't to therapy and it tightened up again, now working hard at home with exercises and it is getting better, so the more you are able to move it the better you are, I realize you are in a lot of pain but movement is good for it, eventually it will get better. My first shoulder was really a nightmare, 3 months of very painful therapy then surgery and then 3 more months of therapy. Finally that shoulder is 95% pain free. So hang in there once the covid scare lightens up you will be able to work on things again. Patients is hard now but that is what it takes.

    • Posted

      Is your pain relatively stable? Mine is all over the place. Some days it's not that bad. Some other days, it's horrible. Also, it hurts in different areas. Sometimes it is in biceps, then next day in triceps or deltoid. Right now, it hurts in the shoulder itself, but in the morning it was near the front of my elbow. Sometimes the lower arm hurts too, especially right above the wrist. Do you also experience the pain moving like this and changing intensity? Or is it just me?

    • Edited

      My pain moves all over also, shoulder, neck, bicep, forearm, elbow almost all the time, feels like a bad bruise on my elbow, collar bone. I haven't seen the doctor since February because of covid but I think I am going to have to break down and go again, he suggested another shot last time I saw him but I said no, looks like that is where I am headed. Still not nearly as bad as my first frozen shoulder so that helps, knowing it could be a lot worse. Pain level is all over the board, some times just slight other times I would say 6 out of ten. I think we all go through the same things. Stay safe wherever you are, hope this helps you.

    • Posted

      My pain moved around as you and others described. I also frequently had what felt like nerve pain or tingling down my arm, to the fingers. Sometimes one side of my fingers or the other tingled, sometimes the whole hand. This tingling/pain returns once in a while when I am stretching my shoulder. (I'm in the thawing phase, I believe.)

  • Edited

    yes for sure , you got frozen shoulder.

    the pain at night is unbearable. mine started a burning pain in my left breast, like a match ans then the pain went to my biceps and triceps in my left arm, but not in shoulder. it was weird and not sleeping at night for almost a year😩 finally got over it by taking cbd and drinking less coffee. but i found that in march when the covid lock down happened, my stress level went up and i think brought back the symptoms

    • Posted

      Funny you mentioned stress levels. I feel like it hurts more after a stressful day. It's actually a vicious cycle: my arm hurts and I cannot move it, which increases my stress levels. The stress levels, in turn, seem to aggravate my pain even more. Which prevents me from sleeping well, which causes even more stress, etc.

      To break the cycle, I take painkillers and some prescription muscle relaxants sometimes (cyclobenzaprine). The effects are not very strong, but they help take the edge out of the worst days. However, I don't want to take too much medicine, because of various side effects.

      In my case, the lack of sleep, constant pain and increased stress levels seem to be also causing dizziness and migraines. Which is like adding insult(s) to the injury.

      Not to mention I keep getting neck pain more often now, probably because my other muscles somehow compensate for the issues in the shoulder.

      I'll try CBD. Maybe it will help somewhat, and from what I read there are not many side effects when used in low dosages. Worth a try.

    • Edited

      I think it always seems worse if I am tired and stressed. i bought hemp oil which i massage in at night and that helps a bit but if you do that make sure you put night dress or top over or it makes a mess on pillow!!

    • Posted

      So, I'm going to try CBD, but I don't know what dosage should I take. What is the dosage that works for you?

    • Edited

      i used used Releaf . not sure where in Canada you live, in Toronto i found it at the 400 flemarket or go on line to order. good luck

  • Edited

    hi ala

    as sandra said there are some good ideas on the part of this site. and yes hang in there it takes ages to work through. and you can.

    one tip is also look after the good arm as well. dont leave it out. give it a pamper massage every now and then.

    me i ruined me good arm carrying all the work load. more so than a frozen shoulder. if you want to bypass the time line look into hydrodilation.

    mass volume injection

    1st anasthetic into the area

    2nd needle into the joint with a line

    3rd dye into the joint

    4th anasthetic deep into the joint

    5th long lasting steroid into the joint

    6th a very large volume of saline

    you can feel the scare tissue tearing away and popping.

    it takes 15 mins and you will come out a different person. my wife said a cloud lifted that afternoon.

    see some of my other posts to see

    and good luck and very important keep focused and positive with this problem and dont let it get you down.

    if so ping a post we all read it and can support. its a very solitary condition. people dont have any idea how much pain we are in


    • Edited

      Thanks for the suggestions. Good point about taking care of the good arm. I actually think I rely on it too much to try to pretend that I can still do all normal activities. I sometimes also feel pain in the good arm, around the upper part of my biceps. Which is exactly the kind of pain that started all my problems in the bad arm last September. So it really freaks me out. Having both arms frozen would be a disaster, and just thinking about it causes a panic in me.

      I will look at hydrodilation once they start reopening things around here (I'm in Canada). So far all medical-related places are either closed, or only for emergencies. I can't even see any doctors (only phone or video chats are possible, which I find pretty useless since most doctors are not trained in providing fully remote care).

    • Edited


      yes its the same here. First phone call to doctor got me co_codamol pain relief which did nothing the second gave me anti inflammatories which did nothing so use ice and heat packs. i made the mistake of resting my bad shoulder for weeks and it got lots worse so try to do exercises. you tube have some too. i got resistance band and try to stretch with that too. I get spasms at night in arm muscle like cramp - not nice. I am gratefil to others on this site who made me realise i was not alone..we all need to cheer each other on bad days...

    • Posted

      good afternoon Canada.

      yes yes yes look after the other arm. i fell hook line and sinker. lucky the hydro injection really worked. all be it i depended on PT to keep arm in check . it was fine and mobile . until march this year. now 10 weeks no PT i am in pain due to the muscles showing off. i really hate pain killers as you tend to depend on them more and more.

      i suffer each day until the evening. just aquired the Aircast cryo cuff. use it in the evening.

      ho boy my shoulder is at 5c . no pain, just a smile from the relief. then 1000 mg pain killer to go to bed with.

      be forceful with the doc when you finally see him/her. some docs have never herd of it !!!!!!.

      i am actually teaching myself to use the other arm ( frozen one) at the moment less pain full to do every day jobs ready for the operation on the other.

      so rule 101 take care of the good one

      stay safe and keep us updated


    • Edited


      having a bad day today and feeling really down. Had session with osteopath yesterday and she really was quite tough she worked on both shoulders and across my shoulders I feel so sore and needless to say had another disturbed night. It is so isolating so am feeling the need of support from people who understand and feel the same pain. Am so short tempered too i feel like the worst person to be locked down with ....

    • Posted

      Sorry to hear that you are suffering. I'm going through something similar today. The pain is really bad. Even when I don't move at all, every few seconds I feel this short burst of acute pain shooting inside my shoulder and biceps. It's frightening. It has been 2 months of non-stop suffering for me, and it is seriously wearing me down. I don't think I ever experienced anything worse in my life. I had some painful injuries before, but the worst pain only usually lasted a few days, maybe two weeks top. So having this pain for 2 months, is really depressing. I wish I could have at least one night of good and restful sleep. I barely sleep a few hours a night, and I feel exhausted every morning.

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